SojournKids

Children's Desiring God National Conference

Tripp: 5 Things You Must Know About Children (and Yourself)

UncategorizedJared KennedyComment

trippChildren Desiring God Plenary Session 3Paul David Tripp

There are five things that you must know about the children to whom you minister.  These must always be the backdrop of your ministry as and ambassador of King Christ.

(1)    The children you minister to were created by God to be revelation receivers. They weren’t wired to figure life out on their own.  They were created to receive in an ever-expanding way the glorious revelation of Christ alone.  Children need to understand God’s truth, and they were created to be utterly dependent on God’s revelation.

(2)    The children you minister to are natural interpreters. Human beings do not live their lives based on facts.  They live on the basis of their interpretation of the facts.  They are always trying to make sense out of them.  Every child you teach is a theologian and a philosopher.  Every child is an archeologist who will dig through the mound of his existence to make sense of his world. (3)    The children you minister to are worshipers. Worship is your identity before it is ever an activity.  What you worship will shape everything that you do in your life.  When a child throws a tantrum, he is worshiping.  He wants to be God.  He wants the world to be about him.  There will be hell to pay if his “sovereign” will is not done.

(4)    The children you minister to are wired for glory. They are wired to celebrate accomplishment and purse wonder and glory.  There are only two kinds of glory.  There is sign glory—beautiful and wonderful things that point to God.  Then, there is the glory of God.  Each child seeks after one of these two kinds of glory.  Self-glory (infatuation with sign glory without God) is very seductive—even for children.

(5)    The children you minister to are self-focused and self-obsessed. The DNA of sin is selfishness—my wants, my needs, my feelings.  I’m so busy with myself that I have no time to love anyone else.

Another is writing our story.  Our lives do not go according to our plans.  Your Bible is not arranged by topic.  The Bible is arranged the way that it is arranged by God’s intention.  The Bible is one grand story—a theologically annotated story, that is, a story with God’s notes.

The goal of ministry is to imbed individuals stories in the larger story of redemption, so that in the situations and circumstances of everyday life, they would live with a “God story” mentality.  Occasionally, there will be a story summary in the Scriptures.

Tripp read 1 Peter 1:3-9

This passage is a story summary with a then, then, now construction.  He gives a “Then” of the past, a “Then” of the future, and then the here and “Now.”  We tend to understand the past and future more than we understand the here and now.  This creates a gospel gap.

(Verse 3) First, the history of salvation was written for us because we were dead in our sins and could not provide for ourselves.

(Verse 4-5) Then, Peter reminds us of our spiritual trust fund that cannot be taken away-the spiritual inheritance that is waiting for us in heaven.  Keep your eyes on the prize.  The divine banker won’t just keep your inheritance.  He will keep you. We want to write our own stories.  The pen will never be in our hands, because the story we would write for ourselves would be our damnation.  We would rather have temporal comfort and ease than redemption.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trails” (verse 6). As Peter thinks about the here and now, three words come to mind.

GREIVED, TRIALED, TESTED

Why?  What is the story?

Peter uses the analogy of the metallurgist, who takes ore—which has imperfections.  The imperfections rob the metal or precious jewel of its beauty.  The ore must be refined by white-hot fire so that the metal will be hardened and purified. When you come to Christ, you are an ore-ific Christian.  God couldn’t be a perfect and faithful redeemer and leave you in your ore-ism.  In the grandeur and glory of his redemptive love, he will boil you.

God will take you where you haven’t intended to go in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own.  True righteousness only ever begins when you come to the end of yourself.  God wants you to get to the point where you abandon you to find hope, life, joy, and satisfaction in Him and Him alone.  He loves you enough to compromise your temporary comfort, ease, and happiness in order to create something better—holiness.  Your faith will be refined and refined and refined until it is pure and genuine to the praise and the glory of Christ.  The agenda is not for you to like your life, but to form in you Christ-centered, God-glorifying holiness.  So, he will undo you, so that he can rebuild you again.  Do you want a Messiah who is merely a divine waiter, or do you want a Messiah who will rescue you from you.

What does this mean?  We must be very skilled in absorbing and living the theology of uncomfortable grace.  God’s grace is violent.  It shakes us and tears us away from the things of this world so that we will hold to nothing as tightly as we hold to him.  There will be moments when you will be crying out for God’s grace… and you will be getting it.  But it will not be the grace of release and relief but the grace of refinement.

What do you want for your life, your marriage, your finances, and your friendships?  Would you say to God, use what you want to use to make me holy and help me to point to your glory?  Is that where you are, or are you holding on to your life?  Are you trying to take the pen or are you allowing God to write your story?  Will you pray, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done here and now as it is in heaven.”  Or are you easily irritated—wanting a story different from the one that God has given to you? Life on this side of eternity is one big story war.  This is the story that you must give to the children to whom you minister.  They want life to work their own way, and there will be a natural struggle with the fact that they are not sovereign.  They will never be in the center of the story.  They must come to see the nature of God’s story, the nature of his redemption, and that it won’t always be comfortable.  Times of trial, grief, and testing are not signs of God’s unfaithfulness; they are signs of his persevering, patient, and redemptive love.

Read Revelation and ease drop on eternity.  Hear the voices of the ones celebrating there.  They are not celebrating anything about their lives on earth.  They say, “You did it.  You did it.  You redeemed us.”  Those voices are on the pages of Scripture because we need to hear them.

We don’t like to be uncomfortable—much less the intentional uncomfortability of God’s transforming grace.

So, I pray these prayers:

God, I am a man in desperate need of help today. I recognize my slavery to ease. Please send help. Help me to recognize the help when it comes.

More on the conference from the Desiring God blog:

Jones: Equipping Families to Do Discipleship

UncategorizedJared Kennedy7 Comments

Children Desiring God Breakout Session 2Equipping Families to Do Discipleship Timothy Paul Jones

Download the slides for this presentation. We have a responsibility for being the primary disciple-makers in our homes. God wants families to engage in cosmic warfare.  Our families are not equipped to do so.

The testimony of Scripture: (1) God has called parents to serve as primary disciple makers of their children (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:18-21; Psalm 78:5; Proverbs 1:8-9; Ephesians 6:4) (2)    The church is responsible to look after “spiritual orphans” while passionately seeking to disciple their parents (On God’s compassion for the fatherless, see James 1:27; Isaiah 1:17). (3)    Where God’s kingdom is present, generations are drawn together, not driven apart (Malachi 4:6; Luke 1:17; cf. Isaiah 3:5) (4)    What you do for God beyond your home will typically never be greater than what you practice with God within your home (1 Timothy 3:4-5; 5:1, 8).

The testimony of history: “You husbands, work with your wives to train your children in the fear of God.”—Polycarp of Smyrna, To the Philippians 4.2

“To each of you fathers and others, I speak:  Just as we see artists fashioning their paintings and statues with great precision, so we must care for these wondrous statues [children] of ours.”—John Chrysostom

“If we would re-instate Christianity in its former glory, we must improve and elevate the children, as was done in the days of old.”—Martin Luther

“You are not likely to see any general reformation, till you see family reformation.”—Richard Baxter

“Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church, consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his rules.”—Jonathan Edwards

The present predicament: (1)    Parents, and especially fathers have become disengaged from the practice fo actively discipling children. 85% of parents recognize they bear primary responsibility, but most think all they need to do is take their children to church. (2)    Most churches have not consistently expected or prepared their parents to disciple their children. (3)    In God’s creation order, the basic context for human development is the family and the basic distinction between human beings is male and female.  In contemporary culture, the primary context for development has become age-clustered groups. (4)    We don’t know how to be with our families.

Be together—Teach families how to sit together and have a family meal.  Teach them how to have a discussion at the table together.

Serve and play together—The discipleship of the child is more important than the efficiency of the accomplishment.  Individualized entertainment has replaced celebration of community in our culture.  In our home, we don’t watch videos or play video games by ourselves.  We do these things together and celebrate as a family.  You may have to teach families to work together and play together.   When families serve together, they see themselves as a unit of mission together

Learn together—We must train our families to teach their children and have family devotions together. “Family ministry is the process of intentionally and persistently realigning a congregations proclamation and practices so that parents—and especially fathers—are acknowledged, trained, and held accountable as person primarily responsible for their children’s discipleship.

How does your church make certain that parents are acknowledged, equipped, and held accountable as persons primarily responsible for their children’s discipleship?

BE—This must be worked into the DNA.  It starts in the family room of the pastor. ACKNOWLEDGE—This must be worked into the church’s proclamation and new member training SYNCHRONIZE—We must resource, train, and involve parents. EQUIP the parents to disciple their children.  It must be memorable, missional, and multi-generational.

Download the slides for Tim's other breakout presentation, Equipping Churches to Equip Families

Michael: Mobilizing Men for Ministry to Children

UncategorizedJared Kennedy6 Comments

Children Desiring God Break-out Session 1Mobilizing Men for Ministry to Children David Michael

One of my passions is to see men involved in children’s ministry.

Bethlehem Baptist statistics: Our congregation is 30% male and 60% female.  Our nursery has 18% male workers.  Our kindergarten—2nd grade group has 34% male workers.  By 5th grade, our classes are approximately 50/50.  43% of our teachers are male.  23% of our team leaders are male.  This is more of an administrative role, and men seem to be less detail oriented.  Of our male staff, 19% are single, 69% are married, and 57% have children of their own.

Why mobilize men? (1)    Because men need to obey the Word as much as women do.

(2)    Because our sons and daughters need the benefit of seeing biblical masculinity up close. “The most important institutions of moral instruction—the family, the church, and the school, are failing to turn out responsible young men”—Al Mohler Our boys are missing the incentives that they once had to rise up and be like men. Our boys are missing training. Our men do not fully understand what it means to be a biblical man and pass this on to their children. Our boys are missing a biblical vision of true masculinity. “As young men, sometimes all we need is a picture of what we could become”—Eric Ludy

Effective ministry to children and youth is effective ministry to men.

(3)    Because our children need to understand that Christian affection is for men as well as women.  This is why we encourage our men to bring their children into our adult services… so that they will see men embracing God with affection.  Young boys need to see that they can do this.  Young girls need to desire men who engage with God.

(4)    Men are called to be spiritual leaders in the home and in the church. Boys and girls need to witness men leading in the home and in the church.  Men who are effective in the home will be effective in our Sunday Schools.  Men who learn to be effective in the Sunday Schools will be encouraged and equipped to lead in their homes.

Why are men reluctant?

(1)    Stereotypes: Q: Currently the number of women involved in ministry to children out number men more than 2-1.  In your opinion what is the reason for this? “Children’s ministry is perceived as more fitting for women than for men.” “Working with children does not seem like manly work.” “Working with children is not perceived as real ministry but as babysitting.”

Over time, the cultural assumption has been that men are not equipped for early childhood work and ministry.

(2)    Lack of Confidence. Men feel spiritually incompetent to teach their children, much less lead others’ children.  Men feel less confident in their faith, and they feel less able to teach the next generation.

(3)    Dominant Female Presence in the Leadership of the Ministry "One important aspect of ministry is the fellowship we have serving with others.   For me, this happens best when there are other men to relate to.  When I volunteer for the nursery, I just don’t feel at home."

(4)    Time “Men generally have more time commitments; committing to a weekly endeavor would push them over the edge.”

(5)    Trust Administrators see a legal liability with men, and there is higher parental concern that their children will be abused.  Men feel this to some degree.

(6)    Low Status This doesn't seem like leadership.

How do we mobilize men? (1)    Pray. Secure the aid of Omnipotence.  “Your business is to train mortals for earth, and immortal beings for God, heaven and eternity…  By believing prayer, secure the aid of Omnipotence”—John Angell James.  Isaiah 31:1; Psalm 116:2

(2)    Call men to pursue a great challenge. “Many men respond to big hairy audacious goals.  I don’t know what that would be, but many men like a good challenge.”—Bethlehem Baptist volunteers

(3)    Call men to pursue a great cause—Join us to raise a generation of boys that will act like men and not a generation that will be wimps and barbarians.  Call them to be strong and courageous Ephesians 6 men.  Men and boys will respond when we call them to take up their cross. “I can tell my 3rd grade guys to look up to me and I get to see their growth every Sunday.  It’s a challenge for me and I’m learning what kind of father I might be if I have kids someday.”  “I have been able to be a part of 3 young men coming to Christ.  This has by far been the most satisfying aspect of the ministry.” “I am excited about Bethlehem’s vision for the next generation and I want to be a part of it.”—Bethlehem Baptist volunteers.

(4)    Impress on men their unique qualifications. Men have something to give that women cannot, namely their manhood.  See John Angel James’ Addresses to Young Men.

(5)    Invite them.

(6)    Invest in male leadership. Bethlehem invested in a pastoral position. “Men need other men to inspire them, motivate them, and hold them accountable.  There are just some issues that only a group of good men can defeat.  Just like there are some things you don’t do alone in life such as swim in the ocean or climb a mountain, men should not go through life alone either.  Men need other men.”—Rich Johnson

(7) Feed them! Both physically (have donuts) and satisfy their hunger to learn and to benefit from ministry, that is, satisfy their Godly desires. “This might seem like a strange ‘encouragement’, but I would tell them that it is HARD.  This takes time, effort, and energy.  You WILL become a stronger believer through this.  Your faith WILL grow.”  “I love that I benefit as much as the kids.  If you want to learn something, teach it.”—Bethlehem volunteers

Ware: "There Is None Besides Me"

UncategorizedJared Kennedy1 Comment

bwareChildren Desiring God Plenary Session 2“There is None Besides Me”: Biblical Foundations for the Centrality of God Bruce Ware

Q.  Are there more gods than one?  No.  There is only one true God.

This is one of the most comprehensive claims of Scripture. Exodus 8:10—“there is no one like the LORD our God.” Exodus 15:11—“Who is like you?” Deuteronomy 4:35, 39—“There is no other besides him.” 2 Samuel 7:22—“There is none like You, and there is no God besides You.” Psalm 86:8-10—“There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours.” Jeremiah 10:6-7—“There is none like You.” Isaiah 40:18:25—“To whom will you liken me?” Isaiah 43:10-11—“Before me there was no God formed and there will be none after me.” Isaiah 44:6-8—“Who is like Me?  Is there any other Rock?” Isaiah 45:5-7—“From the rising to the setting of the sun… there is no one besides Me.” Isaiah 45:18-19—“I am the LORD, and there is none else.” Isaiah 45:21-22—“There is none except Me.” Isaiah 46:5—“To whom would you liken Me?” Isaiah 46:9-10—“I am God, and there is no other.”

3 Themes at the heart of the Scriptures and their declaration of God’s exclusivity and incomparability. (1)    God is exclusively God, and God is incomparably God as He is the Creator of the Earth… Isaiah 40:18-26 God is independent of all. What does it mean to say that God is the creator?  As the creator of all, God is independent of all that he has made.  God is apart from the world.  The world cannot add anything to God.  It cannot contribute to God.  God contributes to it.  God needs nothing from this world.  God is not lonely.  He has existed eternally in community.

Isaiah 40:12—“Who has measured the waters in the palm of his hand?”  Think of the difference between how big we are and how big He is.

Isaiah 40:17—“All the nations are regarded as less than nothing and meaningless.”  This does not mean that God does not love the nations (see John 3:16).  Rather, it means that humanity—the collective totality of the nations—can add nothing to God.  He is the giver.  We are the receivers.  He is the provider.  We are the needy recipients.  God is God apart from us.

God is the rightful owner of all. God has absolute rights over everything we are and everything that we have.  We don’t have rights to anything that is ours.  Our family—as precious as they are—belong to the Lord.  To create is to own, and to own is to have priority of rule.

What then should be our response to God?  We must come before God with a deep sense of humility and dependence upon him.  1 Corinthians 4:7—“What do you have that you have not received?  And if you have received it, why do you boast as if you have not received it?”

(2)    God is exclusively and incomparably God as He is redeemer of his chosen people.

Dr. Ware read Isaiah 43: 1-13

Because God redeems his people, He is their rightful owner, verses 1-2. God is the rightful owner of what he is bought.  As Christians, we are twice owned people.  We are owned as his creation and his redemption.   Just as he creates the heaven and the earth, he creates his people.  He formed his people.  They are his making.  To call us by name means that he owns us.  God names us.  God tells us where we go.  Our parents do not control our destiny.  We belong to him.

Because God redeems his people, He demonstrates his selecting and particular love for us, verses 3-4. The Exodus shows us God’s love and care for his people.  It also shows His intended divine judgment against others.  The places his love for Israel side by side against his wrath against those who are not His.  This is clear in the final plague.  God did not tell the same things to the Egyptians.   This was by divine intention.  God judged others in the place of those he favored.  The favor shown to Israel in the Exodus was not owing to their righteousness.  He simply poured out his grace toward the ones He chose. What then should be our response to God?  We must respond with confidence and trust in God.  This should elicit absolute trust from us in him.  Our duty to follow him should also be our greatest delight—flowing from a thankful heart.

(3)    God is exclusively and incomparably God as He is sovereign ruler over good and evil

Dr. Ware read Isaiah 44:24-45:7

As sovereign ruler, God reigns over nature (verses 24, 27) and nations (verses 25-26). God not only makes everything, but he controls what they do.  God is incomplete control over all things that happen in nature.  God controls the results of elections.  He announced Cyrus reign 150 years before he was born.

As sovereign ruler, God has absolute control over both good and evil (Isaiah 45:7; cf. Psalm 5:4; 1 Jon 1:5).

What should be our response?  This gives us hope and strength.  The suffering and sickness we experience can be faced with hope and strength.  Even though we may not understand the reasons, we know Who is behind these things and we can trust his character.

More Resources from the Desiring God blog

John Piper: The God Centeredness of God

UncategorizedJared Kennedy1 Comment

piperChildren Desiring God Plenary Session 1The God-Centeredness of God John Piper

First caution regarding indoctrination: We must be careful not to simply indoctrinate children without a due concern that they should also have a good reason for believing them.  Indoctrination tries to preserve a viewpoint from group to group or generation to generation without also helping them to “test all things and hold fast to what is good.”  You shouldn’t just be passing on blocks of information.  You should also be thinking about the process of how they learn to think about those truths. Second caution regarding contextualization: It is amazingly helpful to think about how we do things with children first.  Then, this helps us understand something about how to do ministry and missions. Contextualization is a hot buzzword today.  Our task in contextualizing for kids is not merely contextualization as typically understood but concept creation (and with adults concept destruction).

When I say, for example, a ministry needs to be “God-centered,” everyone agrees.  But when I talk about the God-centeredness of God, people shake their heads “No.”  Do you feel more loved by God when he makes much of you or when he helps you make much of him forever?

Why is it so wrong for us to be self-exalting and so right for God to be self-exalting?  We find examples of God exalting himself throughout the Bible:  Ephesians 1:5; Psalm 19:1; Jeremiah 13:11; Psalm 106:7; Ezekiel 20:14; 1 Samuel 12:20; Romans 15:8; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Philippians 2:9; 1 Peter 4:11; Acts 12:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Habakkuk 2:14; Revelation 21:23

So, this creates a crisis in people’s lives.  The idea of self-adulation is a huge moral hindrance to people believing in the God of the Bible.

John 11:1-4 (ESV): Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill.”  But when Jesus heard it he said, "This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it."

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

He lets Lazarus die, because he loves them.  How can this be love?

The main way that God loves us is not by making much of us or by sparing us trouble, but by making much of himself.  Love does whatever it has to do to provide the beloved with the deepest and longest satisfaction.  God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is the most loving thing.

We’re not into indoctrinating.  We don’t merely do contextualization but create categories.  All of life should be God-centered.  A good litmus test of whether or not you are God centered is whether or not you can exalt in the God centeredness of God.